Beauty and the Best

Rion Vernon

Interview with Artist Rion Vernon

blogEntryTopperRecently, AllGoodThingsTV had the pleasure of catching up with Rion Vernon, an incredible character artist who has worked for some of the top Hollywood studios including Stan Winston, DreamWorks Animation, electronic arts and Sony. For AGT, he drew a custom art piece of AGT host, Olivia Jensen, based on her viral video. (You can get a custom t-shirt of this image here) Hailing from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Rion talks about his start in the industry and what inspires him as an artist.

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1) How did you get your start working as a professional character designer/illustrator?
Out of high school I was lucky enough to meet Stan Winston of Jurassic Park fame. With portfolio in hand and enough persistence I ended up being hired to produce the artwork for that year's Christmas card. I then stayed on as a character designer after that.

2) Who have been some of your biggest influences?
Classic Disney animation had quite the impact on me growing up. When I was getting interested in pinup art, I discovered Gil Elvgren and George Petty who really inspired me. In a way, my pinup work is really a fusion of George Petty's girls, Jessica Rabbit and Tank Girl.

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3) Can you describe the thought process involved when you begin a new piece?
Something I learned when I was working at DreamWorks animation was the importance of silhouette value. Basically, "silhouette value" refers to the image's graphic shape. It should be quickly identifiable, even at a small scale. So dynamic poses are really important especially when it comes to pinup work.

I always begin by doing a drawing in pencil. Traditional drawing is still in my blood even if I'm a huge Photoshop junkie. After I complete a pencil drawing I'm happy with, I scan it into Photoshop and add color.

4) You've worked on a wide variety of projects over the years. What are some of your favorites and why?
My tastes change over time, so for me it's important that I do work on a variety of projects. It was an absolute blast working for Stan Winston Studio and DreamWorks, creating an entire universe of alien worlds. But then it was nice to move on and focus on my pinup work. To have a constant flux of creative outlets is my goal. I like to learn new techniques and be open to new possibilities.

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5) What advice would you give to artists who are inspired by your work and aspired to become character or conceptual artists either working for themselves or large companies?
It's all about practice, practice, practice. A portfolio is absolutely crucial. Focus solely on the genre you're interested in, because potential employers need to clearly see what your forte is. It's easy to get pigeon holed as an, pigeon hole yourself into a genre you're passionate about.

6) What's next for you as an artist?
It may sound a bit strange in context, but I'm actually really interested in learning carpentry. There's much I want to build.

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